Weather Blog: Lightning Safety Week

Published: Jun. 27, 2019 at 11:36 AM EDT
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Lightning Facts

- The United State averages 25,000,000 lightning strikes a year

- Most lightning deaths occur in the Summer

- Over the last 10 years, the US averaged 28 lightning deaths and 252 lightning injuries per year

- 231 of the 294 people killed by lightning since 2008 have been male

- Lightning can strike 10-15 miles away from where rain is falling

- Air near lightning is heated up to 50,000°F, which is hotter than the surface of the Sun

- Odds of being struck by lightning in a year: 1/1,171,000

- Odds of being struck in your lifetime (est. 80 years): 1/14,600

- Lightning strike victims do not carry a charge. They should be helped immediately.

Lightning Safety Facts

- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.

- Safest location is a large enclosed building.

- 2nd safest location is in an enclosed metal vehicle. Convertibles are not safe.

- Stay away from tall isolated objects, like trees and towers.

​- Avoid the top of hills and open fields.

- Stay away from bodies of water.

- Check the forecast before planning a trip outdoors away from shelter.

- Don't forget about pets! Dog houses are not safe. If your dog is tied to a tree or wire runner, they can easily be struck by lightning.

Lightning Safety Indoors

​- Never use any electronic devices plugged into the wall. Lightning can travel through electrical wiring.

- Never use corded phones. Cell phones are safe to use as long as they are not plugged into the wall.

- Never take a bath or shower. Lightning can travel through plumbing pipes.

- Stay away from windows and doors.

- Stay away from concrete floors and walls.

5 Ways Lightning Strikes People

1. ​Direct strike: a direct strike happens when the person becomes a part of the main lightning discharge channel.

Example: You're out on Lake Thurmond during a storm and a lightning bolt directly hits you.

2. Side flash: a side flash happens when lightning hits a taller object near a person and a portion of the current jumps from the taller object to the person.

Example: You're hiking through the woods during a storm and lightning strikes the tree next to you and the current jumps from the tree to you.

3. Ground current: a ground current strike happens when lightning strikes an object then energy travels outward along the ground surface.

Example: You're out in a parking lot during a storm and lightning strikes the ground nearby and the current travels through the ground and shocks you.

4. Conduction: a conduction strike happens when lightning strikes a conductive surface, like metal, and energy travels through the material shocking anything that touches it.

Example: You're inside during a storm while playing on your cell phone that is plugged into the wall, lighting strikes electrical grid and it travels into your home and shocks you.

5.Streamers: a streamer is a secondary bolt that develops as the downward moving leader approaches the ground. A streamer strike happens when people are struck by a streamer bolt.

Example: You're outside during a storm and a lightning bolt comes down and produces a streamer that hits you. ​

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